Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kahaan Hai, Kahaan Hai, Muhaafiz Khudi Ke?

Where are they, those advocates of human dignity?

While I am ensconced in Santa Clara, the internet serves me well in providing me with information on what is going on in our motherland. About a week back, all that I heard from home was on the Pink Chaddi campaign.

Initially, it amused me, made me laugh, was interesting. I thought it would be a good cock-a-snook at Those-Who-Are-The-Sole-Custodians-Of-Indian-Culture. Later, I thought more about it. It didn't seem so funny then.

A few girls were beaten. Beaten badly. At least two of them were hospitalised. For being in a pub. The Hindu right evidently thinks that these women have strayed from the path of Indian Culture and Morality ("Women?" "Drinking?" "India?" Horror!). In fact, it was suggested that these women deserved the beating because they were "getting too close to Muslim men".

And how did we- the liberal, the elite, the English-speaking (partly) convent-educated react? We, who speak for rights? We, who believe in equality, in human dignity, in the freedom of choice? What did this group of people do?

Decided to send pink underwear to the Sri Ram Sene. That's all. Pink, because it was "a frivolous colour".

Well, pardon me for my ignorance. Just what is so frivolous about being beaten up for choosing to go to a pub? What is frivolous about people making your decisions for you? Where you should be, what you should do, who you should "be close to"? Instead of making a rational point, instead of sending a message out saying such harassment is unacceptable, all we chose to do was send undergarments- the equivalent of saying "Nyah-Nyah, losers, you suck. Kiss my ass".

Indian culture, morality, our notions of religion, are all fast becoming the domain of a set of right-wing reactionaries. Instead of ensuring that such interference ceases immediately, or even engaging them in debate, of trying to get them to see our side of the picture, of asking them what gives them the authority to interfere with our lifestyle, all we do is send them chaddis- thus suggesting that we, the liberals, don't think their viewpoint befits more than insults, not even when it manifests itself in ways so entirely unacceptable to us.

No one I've been able to speak to has given me an answer to this one, let's hope the comments do.


Blogger Self-deprived said...

Manva, the problem is that the *liberals* are now an esoteric, elite bunch who hate being called elite, but are nonetheless. They will patronize and dismiss/ridicule the likes of Muthalik instead of engaging directly and trying to bring out the cleavages between right/left out in the open for all to see. Why? Because they're cocky. They assume they're so correct they needn't do any explaining/talking/arguing.

Even at a basic college level, there's always this bunch of *free-thinking* nitwits who will uphold loudly the ideals of liberalism, and maybe make a play or print this cute little journal about it. Or send messages on facebook. No one is willing to stick their neck out, when you can get so much media-attention just by faffing. It's funny how almost everyone who engages in activism, protests has this notion of wielding a superior knowledge, thereby appropriating sought-after social capital. The *thinking bunch* has sort of created a hierarchy that's pretty analogous to the brahminical system, which ironically, they all berate.

It's all about ideas, words, name-dropping. It's all fluff and fancy. There's hardly an inkling of practicality. You cannot have these cutesy youth parliament meetings and expect the world to change because of them. You cannot send about messages and talk of youth movements on english news channels, and convince yourself it's made an iota of difference. Heck, you cannot blog about social issues and delude yourself into thinking it matters to anyone except the few that are, in any case, *aware*.

11:10 pm  
Anonymous Yamuna said...

"..we, the liberals, don't think their viewpoint befits more than insults.."

It's not about their view point or their values (for one, as you said- it is not theirs).. it is about their actions.
And I think it was a befitting reply-> non-violent yet a-slap-across-their-faces.
I think it actually underscores the need to have better methods of communication than beating up women in pubs.
Like the pink chaddi. And you saw how effective this was!!

Also, these outfits mistake silence on the part of the larger public as support and thrive on them. They also thrive on media coverage.
I guess this was the least expensive, widely accessible, least violent, and a very effective method to hit back at them. And it received good press coverage too.

And didn't you see how they mumbled and fumbled over their valentine's day gifts? They painted a fine picture of their pettiness.
What more do you need?

11:22 pm  
Blogger Karan said...

I'm a bit torn between whether it was a sound act of denouncement or not. It is A making fun of B with the attitude that B's point of view is so utterly ridiculous that it doesn't even stand up to discussing its pros and cons. And so, the argument basically boils down to how ridiculous one thinks B's point of view is and whether there is a need to convey why it's incorrect in a more explicit manner.

10:21 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home